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In Scotland it’s traditional to create whisky pairings: there are several dishes from the national cuisine whose strong flavours pair beautifully with the fullness of whisky.
The most famous national dish, of course, is haggis: its classic version is made from sheep’s stomach stuffed with minced innards like heart, liver and lungs. But finding new, original whisky pairings with food – even beyond Scotland and the other countries where whisky is traditionally produced – is not only no longer taboo, but a trend that appears to be in constant evolution.
It’s an evolution that may take us to surprising places, because it will help gourmands appreciate whisky in a new way, bringing out the best of the single malt’s richness and complexity. For interested foodies, one could organise a multi-course dinner accompanied with various whiskies – starting with the lighter distillates and then gradually increasing the alcohol content.
One important thing to keep in mind when choosing the dishes is to avoid anything with vinegar as the presence of this condiment would inevitably “clash” with the prestigious malts in the whiskies. One combination that’s always been especially appreciated is smoked fish enjoyed with single malt – even better when the whisky has slightly smoky notes.
Also delicious are the pairings with dairy products: even the flavour of a delicate herbed cheese can be exalted when accompanied by a distillate with the aromas of smoked peat: an aged cheese instead will require a whisky with a “heavier” whisky, even one tending towards the sweeter side, but will go beautifully even with a delicate, complex single malt.
And one of the more interesting pairings, of course, is that of chocolate and whisky. The distillate has the extraordinary capacity to contrast and balance the noteworthy aromatic and flavourful intensity of cocoa.